In the remotest Southwestern Uganda, Kisoro lies a lovely Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. This park was founded as a National Park in 1991 and it occupies around 33.7sq. km, which makes it the smallest Uganda safari park. It gets its name from the “Gahinga” volcano and the word Gahinga is translated to the piles of volcanic stones cleared from farmland on the foot of the volcanoes.
In 1930, Mgahinga became a Game Sanctuary and later, upgraded to a National Park in 1991. Its highest point ranges from 2227m to 4127m. Its establishment in 1991 was primarily to offer refuge to the unique mountain gorillas residing in its lushly dense rainforests plus other different flora and fauna.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is sitting within the Virunga Conservation Area (VCA), Kisoro district. This location includes eight Virunga Volcanoes, three of which are lying within Mgahinga making it also a desired trekking spot. The three Virunga volcanoes consist of Gahinga Volcano (3474m), Mount Muhabura (4127m) and Mount Sabyinyo (3645m).
The VCA additionally spreads to cover the Parc National des Volcans in Rwanda and Virunga National Park (Parc National des Virunga) in Congo.
Attractions in Mgahinga N/Park – Uganda
Over seventy-six (76) species of mammals make Mgahinga Gorilla National Park a unique location to go for guided Uganda safaris. The park supports amazing creatures together with mountain gorillas -part of the world’s 1063 individuals left on the earth; golden monkeys, bushbucks, spotted hyenas, buffaloes, black-fronted duikers, elephants, giant fronted hogs, golden cats, South African porcupines, bush pigs.
Mgahinga is compact but wealthier in birdlife -a complete birdlife of 180 avifaunal species stays right here. These consist of the paradise flycatcher, Kivu ground thrush, Rwenzori turacos, yellow vented bulbul, Pin-tailed whydah, stone chat, waxbill, blue-headed council, gray capped warblers, Rwenzori batis, Rwenzori nightjars, black kite, white napped raven, double collared sunbird, speckled mousebird, etc.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park is naturally picturesque. Consisting of scenic volcanoes such as Mount Sabyinyo, Mt. Muhabura, and Gahinga Volcano. These offer trekking possibilities to travelers on Uganda safaris or African safaris.
Activities to do in Mgahinga National Park – Kisoro
Gorilla trekking/tracking is interestingly ultimate experience Mgahinga Gorilla National Park has to provide to its Uganda safari holidaymakers. The park is home to more than 80 mountain gorillas and one habituated gorilla family is ready for gorilla tourism -the Nyakagezi family. Tracking Nyakagezi is possible on a gorilla safari, but valid gorilla trekking permits must be present. You can book permits in advance at USD700 per visit or -contact your local tour operator All in Africa Safaris.
Birding in Mgahinga introduces you to its habitat for great bird sights of birds, especially the endemic Albertine species. The birds to observe range from Rwenzori turacos, double collared sunbird, white-necked raven, black kit, Kivu ground thrush, dusky crimson wing, yellow vented bulbul, etc. The key regions of interest for birders right here consist of the gorge trail set between Mt. Gahinga and Sabyinyo volcano.
Volcano trekking is another spotlight of the Mgahinga National Park holiday. You get to conquer Gahinga Volcano, Muhabura, and Sabyinyo. Sabyinyo volcano (3645m) is 14kms taking eight hours to hike, Gahinga (3474m) 6 hours, and Muhabura (4127m) takes nearly eight hours.
Golden monkey tracking
Golden monkey trekking is another epic Uganda safari experience awaiting you at Mgahinga. It is a little challenging primate adventure that allows you to enjoy a close encounter with strikingly beautiful golden monkeys.
The Batwa trail gives an interesting cultural experience to the Batwa community. You get a chance to meet the Batwa in their community to explore how they lived in the dense forest of Mgahinga and Bwindi protected areas for years as hunters and gatherers. The cultural trial experience will be led by the Batwa.
Mgahinga also offers incredible nature walking experiences at its foothills. This comes with great sightings of birds, flora, and views of scenic Lakes in the surrounding. Hikes or nature walks at Mgahinga are better enjoyed while at the base of Sabyinyo gorge which is rich in birdlife such as Rwenzori turacos.
Garama cave excursion
For cave lovers, caving experiences in Mgahinga have you sorted. Located 3kms from Ntebeko gate of Mgahinga is Garama cave 342m lengthy cave set below the plateau on the Northern edge of this park. The cave was once occupied by the Batwa and it is an important sacred place.
Best time to go to Mgahinga
Every year, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park experiences 2 dry seasons: the lengthy dry season from June to September and the short one from December to February. These are the best months and most preferred by most tourists visiting Mgahinga for gorilla trekking or golden monkeys/volcano trekking. Heavy rains are experienced during the wetter months and tourists tend to avoid them because it is when the park’s floor can be muddy, and steep slopes slippery.
A list of budget, midrange, and luxury accommodations all exist in and at Mgahinga National Park. These include Nkuringo Safari Lodge, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Mount Mgahinga Rest Camp, and Mount Mgahinga Lodge.
By road: Driving from Entebbe or Kampala to Kisoro where Mgahinga is found takes about eight to ten hours. From Kigali, Mgahinga found about 3-5 hours’ drive and you access it via Chanika or Katuna border. By air: quick access to Mgahinga is possible by flight that is from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kisoro airstrip where you can be driven to the park to start your adventures.